James Earhart

James Otto Earhart has been identified as the lead suspect in the December 1, 1981 murder of 40-year-old Virginia Freeman in College Station, Texas. This case was closed by exception due to death of Earhart, who was executed in 1999 for the murder of Kandy Kirtland.

On the day of Freeman’s murder, an unknown man had phoned the real estate agency where she worked looking to buy a house. She went to the house to show it to the prospective client and did not return. She was found in the home later that evening by her worried colleagues. She had been strangled, stabbed in the neck, and bludgeoned to death.

A DNA profile was obtained from tissues under Freeman’s fingernails. The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs, who had performed forensic phenotyping in 2017 as part of a documentary special about facial reconstruction for National Geographic. The initial confirmation of the match was accomplished through DNA provided by Earhart’s son. A court order was then obtained to exhume Earhart’s body and obtain a DNA profile sufficient to be entered into CODIS. At the date of writing, Earhart has not yet been identified as the lead suspect in any other criminal offence.

Earhart was executed at age 56, on August 11, 1999, in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of 9-year-old Kandy Kirtland. She had been kidnapped and murdered while walking home from the school bus. This crime took place on 2 May 1987, several years after Virginia Freeman’s murder.


Brown, Kelly. “Texas Executes Bryan Girl’s Killer.” The Eagle, August 12, 1999. https://theeagle.com/archives/texas-executes-bryan-girl-s-killer/article_a6694d3a-7946-11e8-9fa7-e3de25bb0727.html?1530023802674.

Wiley, Kenny. “Body of Executed Killer James Earhart Exhumed for DNA Testing.” The Eagle, June 28, 2018. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://theeagle.com/news/local/body-of-executed-killer-james-earhart-exhumed-for-dna-testing/article_73c0e259-3369-5488-a6d2-3a2a0602aa5e.html.

Wiley, Kenny. “Modern Forensics Lead Brazos County Authorities to Executed Murderer as Likely Killer of Virginia Freeman.” The Eagle, June 26, 2018. Accessed December 13, 2020. https://theeagle.com/news/local/modern-forensics-lead-brazos-county-authorities-to-executed-murderer-as-likely-killer-of-virginia-freeman/article_12592822-78ab-11e8-8e6c-5345b043bd50.html.


First Name James
Last Name Earhart
Other Names
Victims 1 (Details)
IGG Started nd
Case Cleared 2018-06-25
IGG Org Parabon


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1095 Virginia Freeman 40 1981-12-01 College Station, TX Brazos CSO Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.